5 Reasons to Take a Break From Social Media During Travel
5 Reasons to take a break from social media during travel
5 Reasons to Take a Break from Social Media During Travel
Maybe social media is a big part of your life. Instagram is my personal vice. I check it so frequently that it’s second nature to me now. Open my phone, go to Instagram, and start scrolling through my feed for hours. I didn’t realize how much time I spend on social media until I had to do without it, while I was traveling in Europe. Traveling means not having unlimited data and being able to check it whenever I want. It means checking it only on Wi-Fi connection, and therefore using the rest of my time more meaningfully. Here are 5 reasons to take a break from social media during travel.
1. The Expectations Social Media Puts on Travelers
Whether you have a lot of followers or hardly any, there are imposed expectations that social media places upon you as the traveler. You feel like you need to keep your followers constantly updated with everything you’re doing. Show them what you’re eating, seeing, and experiencing. The pressure of keeping your social media interesting for other people is exemplified when you’re doing something more exciting than just ordinary life, such as traveling the world! But do those expectations feel debilitating? Are you so concerned with your followers’ perception of your trip that you forget to acknowledge your own perception of it?
2. Your Memory Versus Your Camera Roll
Pictures and videos are wonderful keepsakes, let’s be honest. How incredible is it that we live in a time where we constantly have access to a computer, camera, and phone, right in the palm of our hand? You can’t remember every single thing. Keeping memories through your phone is a privilege that our generation forgets to be thankful for. Nonetheless, there is a line that exists between what you allow your phone to hold on to and what you allow yourself to store in memory. Sure, human memory is unreliable, frail, and prone to alter as time goes on and your brain collects more memories. But some things belong in your memory, not your camera roll. A poignant memory for me is the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower, which was my dream since I was a child. Sure, I took pictures then, but I don’t know where they are now, years later. In my mind’s eye, I see the moment. It lives on.
3. How You Experience Traveling in Reality and in Social Media
Yes, there is a distinction between social media and reality, but so often we forget. Everything we see through our screen is altered in some way. It’s presented to us to make us feel a certain way, whether that’s envy, joy, longing, lust, or the desire to buy what we see being advertised. People’s faces and bodies are hyper-edited to the point of looking like paintings or aliens, not actual human beings. When you’re out traveling the world, chances are what you’re showing on social media is all intentional, whether it’s to gain more followers or to please the ones you already have. Are you traveling just to show it off to people on social media? Taking photos only to post and hashtag them? Is the number of likes and views on your posts more important than the view right in front of your eyes, when you’re looking up from the screen, at the world?
4. Real Sense of Self Versus Online Sense of Self
More often that not, who you are in real life is not who you present yourself to be on social media. This is very true for me. I keep my Instagram posts uplifting, neutral, pleasant, and kind. I want people to think I am happy. I want them to think I’m pretty. I want them to think I’m lucky for being able to live the life I live. At the end of the day, most of those people don’t know me at all. They know the tailored version of myself that I post online, the Everything’s Fine Heather, not the I Am a Real Human with Real Emotions Heather. When I travel, I post half for myself and half for the people who follow me. The half that I post for myself is so I can look back on what I’ve done, because reminiscing on my travels fills me with joy. The half that I post for my followers is so that they say, wow, she’s traveling again, how cool! Not posting on social media when I travel is me saying that I’m not going to do half and half anymore. I’m going to do it only for myself. The real Heather is going to have real, unglamorous moments as a female traveler! The online Heather is going to take a seat and let me experience my travels on my own.
5. Sharing Your Travels Online Versus Keeping Them Personal
The pressure to present your travels in an appealing way online can make you forget to even really experience them! Where is the line between what you share and what you keep only for yourself? When you’re traveling, you’re going to face some tribulations. Things go wrong sometimes; that’s life! You don’t want your followers to see you sweaty, exhausted, and gross after a 12 hour plane ride. But isn’t that a real part of yourself? Don’t all real people get stinky and greasy after sitting in a flying whale for half a day? What about when you experience something absolutely amazing? Is your first thought to write up a post and share that with everyone? What about you? Aren’t some things too incredible to be bottled up in an Instagram post, where you sort of half explained what happened, but you changed some details to make it more instagram-friendly? For me, falling in love when I was 21 and living in Europe is something I could never share on social media. Sure, I posted pictures of us, and people were a mix of shocked, happy, and incredulous! But I didn’t share all of the wonderful moments with him that I could never put words to. I stored them in my memory and in my heart. They are personal.
Let Yourself Experience Travel Without Documenting on Social Media
It is really amazing that we have these smartphones that are capable of doing so much nowadays. If you remember, though, we did once live without that luxury. We had dial-up Internet connections, home phones with only one line, and libraries where we actually read books instead of Googling everything. Humans lived full and complete lives for centuries without needing to show it off on social media! I’m not saying you should revert into a caveman and start picking bugs off your friend’s head. I’m saying that you should pay attention to who you really are, not who you pretend to be. When you’re traveling, you should let yourself have that freedom and experience, even if you tell no one about it. What you see when you’re out in the world will change you. It will open your mind and broaden your perspective. It’s not about showing off your Mai Tai on the beach in Hawaii. It’s about watching your first Hawaiian sunset and feeling the ancient, spiritual energy of the island. Your phone won’t pick up on that. Think not about pleasing your followers on social media. Think about how what you’re experiencing will impact your life, on a personal, deep level.
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